When I begin working with a new client, I often hear the business owner describing their company in ways that give a peek into what's going on underneath the exterior they're presenting. They use phrases like "I'm up to my eyeballs," "it's exhausting," "I have to do everything myself," and "no one pulls their own weight."
It's a sign to me that these business leaders could be headed for burnout, even if they aren't ready to admit it to themselves, yet.
Most small business owners feel high levels of stress. So it's not surprising that after an extended amount of time under these conditions, many business owners and leaders start heading towards business owner burnout.
What Is Burnout?
Business burnout is the feeling of exhaustion and lack of interest in daily work, resulting in poor performance. It's caused by an extended time of feeling heavy stress and constant pressure to live up to a certain standard.
Business owners who are burned out usually feel like they're on their own, and have to do everything themselves because they don't trust their people to be accountable for their work.
Signs You're Headed for Burnout
Are you heading for burnout? Here are the signs to watch out for.
You're exhausted and overwhelmed
You don't have the energy to do the work you used to love doing. Just the thought of tackling your To-Do list gives you a feeling of dread.
You're frustrated and cynical
It's hard to find all the good work that's happening in your company, because all you see are issues that never seem to get resolved. It's frustrating, and you have a hard time believing things can change.
You can't think well
It's getting more difficult to make decisions, and you find yourself forgetting the kinds of things that you used to remember easily. You might find it harder to focus for long periods of time.
Your performance is dropping
This is probably a result of your difficulty thinking, and your exhaustion. You know that your work is slipping, so you work even harder--and longer--to make up for it.
You're always at work...even when you're not at work
Emotionally and mentally, you're at the office. The business is always on your mind, and you have a hard time being emotionally present with family and friends.
You treat your people poorly
Are people avoiding you at work? You may be treating them unfairly. Short tempers and explosive behavior are a common signs of burnout.
Nothing seems good enough
You're quick to point out the negative before the positive - and you may not even acknowledge the positive in a particular situation.
You socialize less
You don't talk socially at work, and you may avoid socializing outside of work. This is partly because you're working longer, and partly because you don't have the emotional energy to be with others.
You can't sleep
Relying on medication to fall asleep at night is a common red flag that you're burning out.
You have health issues
Increased stress over time, and neglecting your physical well-being, will eventually cause certain health problems.
How to Recover from Burnout
Some business owners are so overwhelmed when we start working together that they don't see any way out of the burnout. But once they start implementing some simple, proven solutions, they begin to get energized by their work again.
Here are some simple, practical things you can do to stop (or recover from) burnout.
Exercise and eat right
Exercise increases endorphins and relieves the physical tension you've built up. It also helps your mind stay clear and increases problem-solving. Stay on a healthy diet, too.
Make R&R a priority
Even though it's tempting to work more, your productivity at work drops when you don't get the rest and recreation you need. Schedule time in your weekly calendar to rest and spend downtime with the people you enjoy.
Unplug at night
Force yourself to turn off your devices and to be unavailable after dinner. My clients are often surprised to realize that the emergencies they thought they had to deal with immediately could actually be resolved at least as effectively the next morning.
Don't use sleeping pills
Dependence on prescription sleep aids only creates a viscious cycle.
Ask for help (Delegate and elevate)
Realize that you can't do everything on your own. Ask your leadership team for help, and use the EOS Delegate and Elevate Tool to figure out which activities you should invest your time on--and which ones should be given to others.
Keep your people accountable for the tasks they agree to do. In your weekly meetings, follow up on the To-Dos that were assigned to each person. If a task wasn't completed, ask what they need in order to complete it in the next seven days.
Implement an operating system for your business
When your business is running on a simple, proven system, you'll begin to get everything you want out of your company. An effective operating system, like EOS, lets you run your business--instead of your business running you.
If you see yourself in any of these signs of business owner burnout, make the commitment to stopping it in its tracks. Get your leadership team on board and start implementing these tips to prevent burnout today. You'll rediscover the life and the business you really love.
Find out more about how EOS can get your business under control—download a free chapter of Traction, the book that introduces EOS. Or, request a 90-Minute Meeting to see if EOS is right for your company.